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Dec 6, 2009 11:26 AM

24 diner

Well, after watching the Texas game last night, some of my family and I went to 24 Diner last night. That's the new Waterloo Ice House diner concept at 6th and Lamar.

The menu is, shall we say, pretentious. Aiolis and cheeses are predominant on the menu as toppings and dressings on the menu. Prices are somewhat high for the restaurant as well. (For example, a burger and fries run 8.95. Certainly not outrageous, but not when the burger can't even compete with a chain like Chili's.)

However, the menu and the prices were not the lowlight of the evening. Rather, it was the execution of the menu which left a bad taste in my mouth. After turning in our order, the waiter returned to tell us that they had run out of bacon. A 24 hour diner running out of bacon at around midnight is pretty unbelievable. Additionally, our iced tea was brought out without lemons and required us to request any sweeteners whatsoever.

I ended up with their cheeseburger, which was served on a challah bun. The bun had as much in common with challah as it did Wonder Bread. The fries, to their credit, were served hot and had a light sprinkling of sea salt. One of my other dining companions had the breakfast plate, sans bacon. She said the toast was poorly toasted, which I could observe as well. The sausage was inconsistent to her as one pattie was fine, but the next was overly seasoned with sage. When she asked for butter and jelly for her bread, she was told that the restaurant did not have any jelly whatsoever. The waiter did return with a small cup of butter, which appeared solid as if it had just been produced from the refrigerator or freezer. The only other option offered for the "toast" was honey, which was just a container of "Clover Honey." My other dining companion had waffles and country ham. The waffles were described as tasting similar to frozen waffles and the country ham was observed to require significant effort from a knife to cut it.

As we were paying out for our underwhelming meal, I overheard the manager discussing with the staff that they were out of Coca-Cola and he was sending an employee somewhere to buy eight pounds of bacon. One can only imagine that the bacon would unlikely be the "applewood bacon" as described on the menu.

Our waiter was pleasant, which was the only saving grace for the restaurant. The food is underwhelming at best and the management is clearly still trying to adjust to being open. With the restaurant being almost exactly halfway between Katz's and Magnolia, neither of those 24 hour restauarants should lose much sleep. For that matter, neither should Whataburger.

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  1. They have not even been open for a week, so it might take a little time to get it together.

    1. We had similar problems with execution when we ate breakfast there this morning. One order of skillet fries were way too salty while the other was tasty with a good combination of sauteed onions and jalapenos. I second the waffle comment above as well. If I wanted a Waffle House waffle, I would just go to Waffle House. Another big problem: my wife ordered an egg sandwich and each of the three eggs were cooked to a different degree (runny, gooey, hard).

      On the positive side, the scrambled eggs were cooked excellently and their homemade veggie sausage was unique and tasty. It almost seemed the chef spent all his/her time properly cooking the scrambled eggs and everything else was an afterthought.

      As I've found with other places, the Yelp reviews are almost uniformly positive. Not sure if others have noticed, but the usefulness of the reviews seems to have dropped off as more and more people use the site.

      2 Replies
      1. re: ebloom

        Yeah, it does seem like an awful lot of Yelp users assign 4-5 stars to pretty much everything, as long as they don't hate it. Frustrating.

        Regarding 24, the menu prices do seem a bit steep. $12 for a veggie burger? I haven't tried it yet, however. I'll wait a bit so they can work out the kinks, I think.

        1. re: ebloom

          Also wondering if maybe Yelp attracts a different type of reviewer than here.... Yelp seems much more about the social life than this site. While I disagree with a lot of the reviews on this site, this site is much more about the food than about the "vibe" or what's trendy.

        2. Thank you for your very honest feedback, always appreciated especially when you're opening a new restaurant! Austin has shown us much love in our first week of being open! So much that we've eclipsed our wildest expectations and we're running out of certain menu items. Please be patient as we work out the kinks and address the problems. We actually ran out of so many menu items that we had to close our doors today to restock and ensure reviews like the one above don't happen again. We're increasing food deliveries to accommodate the demand and will reopen Tuesday at 11:30am.

          It makes my ears perk to hear the service was pleasant, we will be sending out iced tea with lemons as well. Thanks again for your feedback and we hope to see you again soon.

          3 Replies
          1. re: 24 Diner

            Thanks for the reply -- any chance of bringing jelly and butter as well?

            1. re: exlnghrn

              Do they have tap beer? If so what Live Oak[Real Ale,512]are they offering?

              and prices on beer as well?

              1. re: scrumptiouschef


                page 2: Real Ale Fireman's # 4, Real Ale Full Moon Pale Rye (both $4.50), seasonal noted on the board (which I neglected to look at)

          2. Went tonight. Noticed it still has a four star on yelp. I'd give it 2.5, though I'm not quite as nice as most people on that website. I asked for a coffee and left my ordering up to the server, though I specified no toast. I received French toast, eggs over medium, bacon, and toast with maple syrup and a surprisingly good chocolate syrup on the side-- Mont Blanc Ghana, and now that I look at its ingredients, I'm kind of ashamed for liking it as much as I did. I also got to overhear the conversations that transpired at the wait station. I now know far more about the staff than I'd care to.

            It's new restaurant so I'll cut them some slack, a lot of slack really. My meal wasn't ideal-- everything was overcooked and dry for my taste, though nothing save the toast was inedible. One egg was over medium, the other over hard. The French toast wasn't soft enough for my palate (a challah bread, sort of); I'd prefer brioche and more egg, but if one enjoys crisper versions of the dish, this might be the place. Also, there was no evidence of the vanilla mascarpone to which the menu alludes. The bacon was pre-cooked, which I expect as I'm sure they go through pounds upon pounds, but it was also dry, and I like a bit of grease (perhaps I should have specified). The toast was burnt with seemingly no butter applied, a dearth of jam still extant throughout the restaurant, though the chocolate sufficed for a couple of bites. It also seemed superfluous given my meal. The coffee was good, but not the Paggi House blend that I'm sure they could get, and the lack of a spoon with the service of cream and sugar a bit odd (not to mention an Asian-inspired cube of a ramekin for the cream). I'll just go ahead and get it all out, so that I can get to the cutting some slack component: extra settings weren't cleared, the waiters have been trained perhaps too well in shouting "corner" and "door" during less than peak service times, the lights on the booths need to be cleaned from the inside, and they should really find a different bread purveyor.

            Onto the cutting of slack: It's already better (and cheaper) than Katz's, which I might rate a one on a good day. The staff is pleasant. On that note, my waiter could have ordered something far more expensive and I wouldn't have complained, so I'll give him credit for not trying to boost his PPA exclusively through my meal. The restaurant, despite the boothside lights, is remarkably dust-free for something straight out of construction. The silverware has a nice heft and nifty design, and the napkins are a solid black cloth. My food was reasonably priced-- a little over twelve dollars with coffee and tax, which is less than I'd pay at Katz's, slightly more than what I'd pay at Magnolia, and probably about what I'd pay at Kerbey. The portion size was good for me: it was on the larger side, but not overkill, with three or four pieces of bacon, two eggs, and a piece of toast cut into halves, in addition to the two pieces of French toast. And the bathrooms have artful sinks (the men's room also had a spare bus pass this evening, which some might see as a bonus).

            For one week in, they're doing well and I'm sure they'll continue to improve.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bubbleboy79

              We went for breakfast last Sunday and were pretty impressed at the potential. Though it was 9am, the whole menu was in play so I had the burger. :) It was pretty well seasoned and not too dry or too juicy. The bun was decent but a little too sweet for me. I'd give it a solid B, a bit behind counter cafe but better than most burgers in the area. I also had a side of mac & cheese that was forgettable. Someone at the table had a veggie burger and it looked really good--it was very red so I assume beets were afoot and I'll get that next time. The other breakfast items at the table looked ok--though there were some raves about the oatmeal.

              There seemed to be 8-10 beers on tap, but that's not my thing so I can't speak to which ones they have.

              As bubbleboy states, this place smokes Katz out of the water. I think for breakfast I'll stick with Counter Cafe but 24 Diner is definitely a good addition to the area.

              1. re: Carter B.

                Carter B., what was the wait like on a Sunday morning? I used to love going to Counter Cafe for Sat/Sun breakfast, but the last time I was there I waited an hour for a table and haven't been back. Could've run to the store and bought/cooked my own dang eggs in that amount of time. I wonder how large 24 diner is-- I assume they are already busy, but is the wait for a table less unbearable?

                Always searching for a mid-range brunch joint without a 2 hour wait. (I'm glaring at you South Congress Cafe/Enoteca)

                1. re: femmenikita

                  Two weeks ago Sunday there was no wait at 9am. By the time we left at 10 there maybe have been a 5-10 minute wait. They have probably 30 tables so definitely better than Counter Cafe for seating. I'd try CC first and if they are busy, go to 24.

                  Not to get too sidetracked on brunch, but have you had brunch at Frank yet? We went last weekend. The fried chicken was outstanding. They also had a sausage flight menu item that sounded intriguing. Shrimp & grits were so-so. Bacon waffle that came with the chicken was good but not piping hot & fresh.

            2. I've been twice. They're still working out kinks, for sure. I've had tasty food & not so tasty food each time. I hope the kitchen will become consistent, quickly. The servers are very friendly, which is nice. Can't stand snooty waitstaff or worse, indifferent staff. On the first visit, the ham & cheese frittata was delicious but the salad served with it had super salty dressing. On my second visit the pork belly sandwich was meh. Its only flavor was the toppings. Not what I expect from lush pork belly. And by "lush" I mean fatty bacon deliciousness.